Magazine article assesses overachievers who struggle with relationships

Monday, January 17, 2011; 7:23 PM

What they didn't learn in school The New Yorker, Jan. 17 issue

In a piece called "Social Animal," David Brooks charts the development of what he calls the Composure Class - American overachievers who struggle with relationships, basically - and how the new science of human nature explain these folks. "The young achievers are tutored in every soccer technique and calculus problem, but when it comes to their most important decisions - whom to marry and whom to befriend, what to love and what to despise - they are on their own." Brain scientists are finding that the unconscious mind gives us "more supple ways" of making sense of our environments than the conscious mind. It's all about pheromones, neural wiring, genes and brain chemistry rather than values, character and moods.

- Rachel Saslow

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